Information was disclosed to BACP, which was considered under Article 12.6 of the Memorandum & Articles of Association.
The summary of the information, together with the allegations as notified to Ms Anderson was as follows:
Between 4 June 2012 and September 2012, Ms Anderson was engaged in a therapeutic relationship with a client. The contract was terminated and contact was maintained informally as the therapeutic relationship changed into a friendship, offering emotional support and which was still ongoing.
Ms Anderson states that when she disclosed this relationship in supervision, she realised that she had been meeting her own emotional needs in the relationship, which were not being met elsewhere. Ms Anderson stated that at no time did she enter into a sexual relationship with her former client.
Further, Ms Anderson stated that in hindsight she believes that a major factor at the time was the sudden death of the close companionship of her dog. Ms Anderson took time off work following the death and returned in June 2012 but has since been aware of the continuing grief related to her loss and how this played a part in what happened with her former client.
As a result of the above, Ms Anderson stated that she now wished to withdraw from the Register and cease counselling.
The nature of the information raised questions about the suitability of Ms Anderson's continuing membership of this Association and it raised concerns about the following in particular:
- Ms Anderson's actions have brought, or may yet bring, not only this Association, but also the reputations of counselling/psychotherapy into disrepute.
- The information further suggests that there may have been a serious breach, or breaches, of the Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy.
The member was invited to send in a written response, and made a response.
The Article 12.6 Panel decided to implement Article 12.6 of the Memorandum and Articles of Association. Ms Anderson's membership would be withdrawn subject to appeal. Ms Anderson had 28 days from the date of notification of this report to make an appeal. In the absence of an appeal, notification will be given to Ms Anderson by the Chair of the Association with regard to the withdrawal of membership.
The reasons for the Panel's decision are as follows:
The Panel noted that Ms Anderson had acknowledged that she had compromised her boundaries and entered into a relationship with her client, and in doing so was satisfying her own emotional needs. The
Panel found that in doing this, Ms Anderson was not considering the potential impact that this could have on her client.
Further, the Panel was satisfied on the evidence before it that Ms Anderson did not discuss the developing relationship, with her client, with her supervisor until some months after the relationship had already developed. Although the supervisor was aware of a new relationship in Ms Anderson's life, Ms Anderson did not disclose the identity of the person.
The Panel agreed that Ms Anderson did not manage the developing relationship appropriately in her role as counsellor. As the professional within the therapeutic relationship, it was her responsibility to think carefully about, and exercise considerable caution, before entering into a personal relationship with her client and, at the very least, seek to address the matter in supervision right at the outset. This was not done until some months after the relationship had already developed and even then the information was not volunteered.
The Panel noted that there was insufficient evidence of any insight and reflection from Ms Anderson to demonstrate how she would act differently if this were to happen again.
Taking all of the above into consideration, the Panel agreed that Ms Anderson's actions had or could bring the reputation of BACP into disrepute and also the reputations of counselling and /or psychotherapy, if the public were accurately informed of all of the circumstances. The Panel also agreed that Ms Anderson's behaviour amounted to a serious breach of the Ethical Framework.
The Panel was mindful of this remit in relation to public protection and, after considering all of the evidence, was satisfied that there was sufficient evidence to justify implementing Article 12.6 and withdrawing membership from Ms Anderson.
Ms Anderson did not appeal the decision and her membership was withdrawn.
Any future re-application for membership will be considered under Article 12.3 of the Memorandum & Articles of Association.